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E.A. Poe’s Insights On Insanity And The Workings Of The Human Psyche

4 Pages 1106 Words

There is one thread that all would agree binds many of Poe’s works together . . . Murder and the insanity associated with it. Where the workings of the human mind are concerned, Poe puts to paper what many cannot even imagine. This is especially evident in his short stories such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” in which the common themes are murder, insanity, and darkness. We all wonder what goes on in the mind of a person driven so far over the brink of human sanity that they would actually murder another person. We wonder what could drive one human being to want to kill another.
In pondering the issues above, we often set ourselves aside in thinking that only the obviously and criminally insane are capable of doing such a deed and no seemingly normal person would ever commit such a heinous act, especially not anyone near and dear to us, but what if it were to happen? What if someone close to us were to wish us harm and become aggravated enough to carry out that wish? In forcing us to ask these questions, Poe also focuses on the workings of the human psyche and more specifically on the ability of a seemingly normal person on the brink of sanity to commit insane acts of morbid brutality. Furthermore, what if the person committing the crime were you? Would you readily recognize your insanity or try to place the blame on the victim and try to convince others that you were justified in taking the life of another human being? It is this very line of thinking that Poe forces one to analyze in his short stories filled with murder, insanity, and darkness.
A common theme in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat” is the narrator being a seemingly normal and perfectly sane person to all others when in actuality the case was anything but. From the onset of “The Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator attempts to convince the readers that he is sane, “TRUE!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had b...

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